Today I'm at my own version of a candy store - the City Nation Place Global Summit! Usually I travel to London for this, but obviously this year it's entirely online, but that means more people to connect with: Professionals who manage the reputations of their cities, regions and nations, mostly from municipalities and governments, come together to reﬂect on our very niche industry.
2020 speakers included
It was a great event! Both the content and speakers were very interesting. The round tables and meeting rooms made interactions very accessible. The online platform was interactive and easy to navigate.
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Laura Aalto is CEO of Helsinki Marketing, a company owned by the City of Helsinki, since September 2017. She has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, communications, branding and corporate sponsorship. She served as a Marketing and Communications Director for World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 and Turku, European Capital of Culture 2011.
Laura has been transforming Helsinki Marketing and its business to new strategic framework. She has been leading the company’s change process from a traditional DMO to implementing broader city marketing and brand building. She has been supporting change processes within teams, building new networks and collaboration models. In addition, attention has been paid to employee skills, developing internal processes and changing operating culture.
Laura holds a MA from Helsinki University.
As Chief Executive, Laura is responsible for the leadership, strategy, performance and accountability of the organisation, working closely with the Board and Executive Team.
Prior to joining London & Partners, Laura was Managing Director of the Government & Public Sector Practice at WPP, the world’s largest marketing and communication services business. In that role she advised governments on destination marketing, behaviour change, digital government and citizen engagement. She led a global network of regional teams in Beirut, Brussels, Delhi, Nairobi, Singapore and Sydney.
Laura is author of ‘me.gov: The Next Generation of Digital Public Services.' She taught communications for behaviour change at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.
Laura has spent her career at the intersection of public policy and communication. She spent several years as a UK public servant in London and Brussels, and has worked as a journalist in Russia and for an NGO in Germany.
Laura is a Londoner and speaks French and Russian. She is a Governor of an inner-city London primary school. Laura has an undergraduate degree from the University of Oxford and a postgraduate degree from University College London.
Leigh has worked on an extensive range of brands from across the globe, from the first world countries of Europe to the developing countries of Africa. She has been with Cape Town Tourism since 2012 and is passionate about her city and people.
Leigh has played a significant role in creating marketing platforms and campaigns that not only get visitors into Cape Town, but support the education and up liftment of the local tourism industry and communities. These include the City Twinning Marketing Agreement with NYC & Company; the development of the visitor-centric Love Cape Town brand; and the SMME Marketing Incubator in partnership with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
She believes that, even in this highly digitally-driven world, real honest experiences lie at the heart of travel.
Clare’s interest in the complex area of place branding was sparked whilst working on a series of Nation Branding Masterclass events, led by Simon Anholt, one of the first thought-leaders to speak about and promote the concept of place branding. Having listened to Simon address audiences in Accra, Delhi, Dubai, London and Singapore on how policy, governance, and symbolic actions need to combine with branding and marketing to create a competitive identity and drive economic growth, she continued to follow the growth in this sector. As Global Conference Director for The International Herald Tribune, now the New York Times, Clare also saw growth in advertising and storytelling around tourism and investment promotion strategy. Clare launched the first City Nation Place Global conference in London in 2015: CityNationPlace.com has been steadily building followers and in 2017, she launched the first City Nation Place Americas conference, in 2018 City Nation Place Asia Pacific took place in Singapore, and 2019 has seen the first City Nation Place UK, specifically for towns, cities and regions across the UK, and the launch of the first City Nation Place LatAm & Caribbean event. Clare manages the small team at City Nation Place alongside providing event consultancy and management for a number of clients in the publishing and trade association sector, including running the World Media Awards for the World Media Group and event consultancy for the UK Association for Online Publishers.
Deborah joined Campus Philly as its president in 2010, leading the organization that builds Philadelphia’s economy through college student attraction, retention, and inclusion. She has directed the organization through a period of growth that includes doubling the number of participating colleges and universities, launching new programs in internships and arts and culture, and building a robust corporate membership program. Between 2000 and 2017, the number of 25-34 year olds with college degrees grew 115% in Philadelphia and now 54% of graduates stay in the region after they graduate. Deborah co-founded the learning network Young Smart and Local for cities planning and implementing talent retention programs. Prior to joining Campus Philly, Deborah spent 10 years in market research, first for the consultancy, The Melior Group, then as the Director of Research and Strategy for Visit Philadelphia. Deborah holds a BA from Bryn Mawr College and an MA and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
Amanda’s integrated marketing expertise stems from a diverse client roster, leading to an elevated skill set which encompasses strategic communications planning, unified global account management, effective media relations, crisis communications, experiential execution and influencer marketing. Amanda currently supports the Discover Puerto Rico account at Ketchum, the agency's most awarded client, and has worked with numerous travel, lifestyle brands like Quark Expeditions, Japan Airlines and HotelTonight.
Mrs. Gerekou since August 2019 has been appointed, President of theGreek National Tourism Organization, by decision of the Greek Government andthe Ministry for Tourism.
Angela Gerekou was born in the island of Corfu. She holds a degree from theSchool of Architecture of the University Of Rome, Italy.
She has worked as an Architect for the Hellenic Ministry of Environment,Physical Planning and Public Works, on special programs for the renovation of underdeveloped areas of Athens and she has also worked out a great number ofarchitectural projects for the island of Corfu.
She has served the Greek Government from the positions of Deputy Minister forCulture and Tourism (2009-2010) and Deputy Minister for Culture (2014-2015). She was elected Member of the Greek Parliament, for Corfu, in the 2004, 2007,2009 and 2012 national elections.
Angela Gerekou, also has a significant career in acting. She studied in Derek Jakoby’s “London Academy of Performing Art” in London, UK and she was a member of Federico Fellini’s student group in Italy. She held the main role in the British-Greek production “The Girl of Mani”,which was presented in the International Film Festival of Cannes. She has acted in many plays for cinema, theater and television and she has worked with many distinguished Greek directors.
During the years 1987-1988, she was amongst the founding members of the“Cultural Movement for the Ionian Islands” – a cultural group whose aim was the revival of the traditional genre of the Ionian Theater, through collaborating with many notable political and cultural personalities.
Since 2011 she’s President of the Board of Directors of the Ionian Cultural Center which hosts since then the Corfu Festival of Arts. She is also the president of the Lafkadio Hearn foundation.
She is a volunteer participant in various social initiatives for environmental protection, youth culture and sensitive social groups. During 2005-2006 she was appointed as the National Representative on Global Progressive Forum’s campaign against AIDS.
At the same time period she served as Volunteerism Sector Manager while she wasan MP for PASOK political party.
She is married and the mother of a daughter.
She speaks Italian, English and French.
As Director of Destination Development for the Colorado Tourism Office Andrew works with communities across the state to realize their potential as tourism destinations. Guided by the belief that we are all stronger together, he helps identify common challenges and opportunities within a diverse set of tourism stakeholders to develop a common vision for the change they want to see in their community.
Prior to joining the Colorado Tourism Office, Andrew was the Destination Development Manager for Travel Oregon and the Director of Partnerships for Sustainable Travel International. In his free time he can be found backpacking to alpine lakes or soaking in primitive hot springs.
Dan Holowack is Co-Founder & CEO of CrowdRiff and Localhood.com. Hundreds of Destinations around the world use CrowdRiff’s UGC and storytelling platform to influence how we travel and reshape how tourism supports local communities. The visual stories created and scaled through CrowdRiff compel locals and visitors alike to discover new experiences, both near and far.
Steen Jakobsen is vice president at Dubai Tourism overseeing Dubai Business Events & City Operations – the official convention bureau of Dubai. Prior to joining Dubai Tourism in 2013, Steen was director of Copenhagen Convention Bureau.
Steen sits on the Executive Committee of Dubai Association Centre. He served on the Board of International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) and on the Board of Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC). Steen has also been chair of BestCities Global Alliance. Today he serves on the Board of Directors of BestCities Global Alliance.
Steen holds a Master degree in Commerce and Commercial Law from Copenhagen Business School and the University of Sheffield.
Versatile director and dedicated, with nine years experience as Managing Director in an organization with international expansion and close relationship with all the Basque network of science and technology and building connections with European and worldwide organizations focused on Talent Attraction. With the support of the Department for Economic Development of the Provincial Council of Bizkaia, and the largest Basque enterprises, technology and research centres and all the Basques universities, bizkaia:talent was established in 2005 as a non-profit organisation with a clear mission: to foster and facilitate the implementation of the necessary conditions for attracting, connecting and retaining in the Basque Country highly qualified people in the areas of knowledge and innovation.
Participant in many international conferences as speaker and author of different articles in international press about territorial talent management and the different services and tools of Bizkaia Talent as one of the best examples worldwide.
Co-founder of the European Talent Mobility Forum, along with the most advanced Europan organizations working Regionaly in Talent Attraction Management.
Promoter and creator of the “Bebasquetalentnetwork”, the largest network of professionals related to the Basque Country, with more than 14.500 people in more than 100 Countries around the world.
Promoter and creator of the Basque Talent Observatory, Be Basque Career Development and Headhunting support centres, worldwide unique big data and machine learning tools to analyse the labour market for highly qualified professionals and help both professionals and companies to develop their career and talent management.
Promoter and creator of the first Dual Career Centre in the Spanish State. "Bebasque Dual Career Centre"
Entrepreneur and cofounder of Suministros Textiles Etxetik SL
10 years of leadership experience as Area Manager in the business insurance sector, with Spain’s #1 insurance company M.A.P.F.R.E SAS.
Sharon Landes-Fischer is acting CEO of Tel Aviv Global, a municipal company, directed toward making the city more accessible to the world and facilitating its quantum leap in the global arena, achieved in cooperation with municipal, national and private partners. The company focuses on three main pillars needed for global economic growth: Tourism, Economic Development and Brand Marketing & Communications. Sharon's position includes formulating the company's global strategy and leading the Tel Aviv brand to new heights. Prior to this position, Sharon held the positions of Deputy CEO and Head of Smart Tourism, and built the city's strategy and support systems for the travel-tech industry. Sharon has a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and a Master's Degree in Management and Marketing. A beach volley-ball enthusiast and the City's volley-ball champion, she lives in Tel Aviv with her husband and two children.
Shaun Loftman drives the overall creative vision for the CEEMEA region (Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa), leading Landor & Fitch’s design studios in London, Dubai, Moscow and Istanbul. Shaun is based in Landor & Fitch's London studio and has over 30 years' experience in branding and design across a range of creative disciplines, including creative strategy, brand positioning, identity, brand architecture, experiential and destination branding.
Shaun has extensive knowledge of Europe and Middle Eastern regions. He is responsible for leading high-profile projects for a number of global, sovereign, commercial and governmental entities and is passionate about bringing destination brands to life. Shaun has led comprehensive brand transformation programs in countries such as Turkey, Sultanate of Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Azerbaijan and Jordan. Projects include Burj Khalifa, King Abdullah Economic City, King Salman Park, Riyadh Sports Boulevard, Jabal Omar, NEOM, Makarem, Dur, JOALI Maldives and DXB (Dubai Airports).
Kit Lykketoft is since 2017 the Director of the Copenhagen Convention Bureau. Here she works to attract international association conferences, meetings and events. Kit is also focused on legacy and the added value of congresses and has a Copenhagen Legacy Lab in the bureau. Sustainability is high on Kit´s agenda and a Copenhagen stronghold.
Kit is a strategist and a change-maker who proactively uses research about the future to form the steps being taken in the present. She is a firm believer in trans-disciplinary and cross-sectorial work, and in that sharing of knowledge makes everyone stronger. Kit is member of the BestCities board and Executive Committee and is an active member of the Strategic Alliance of National European CVBs.
Prior to becoming Convention Director Kit has been a visiting scholar at Parsons DESIS Lab in NYC, working with social innovation with the city of NY, following her eight years at MindLab within the Danish Government administration.
MindLab, where Kit was Deputy Director, applied design driven and user focused processes to Danish policy- and reform making. Kit also advised numerous other countries and large international organizations on how to do this.
Kit holds an MA from the University of Copenhagen and an Exe Specialised Master in change from HEC Paris/Said Business School Oxford.
Patricia’s 25 year management career has encompassed international roles in languages, tourism, and telecommunications. She studied in Ireland, trained in Germany and has worked in several Caribbean markets. Patricia completed an MBA in Finance with Alliance Manchester Business School and co-founded a technology start-up based in New Orleans that created a platform to connect explorers with locals for real, authentic experiences. Patricia now leads the Grenada Tourism Authority, the primary tourism marketing agency responsible for promoting the destination nationally and internationally, and for enhancing the tourism product and delivering sustainable growth.
Dr Wilfred Marube is a focused and highly motivated practitioner and researcher in the field of communications management who has made tremendous contribution to the Public Relations Industry. He has served in various capacities to advance excellence in Public Relations and is the current serving President of Public Relations Society of Kenya (PRSK). He is also a member of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management Board and serves as the Delegate-at-Large for Africa.
He has been involved in strategy development and review exercises for public institutions and played a vital role on the development of a nationwide capacity building programme for media workers and led the team to development of a handbook on media reporting on audit findings.
He has been in involved in communication policy development and was among the team that developed the draft Institute of Public Relations and Communication Management Bill that will regulate the public relations and communication management practice in Kenya.
Dr Marube has developed and reviewed communication strategies for public institutions, notable among them the National Council for Population Development, Office of the Auditor General and the Public Relations Society of Kenya.
He is a qualified trainer and currently lectures at the Strathmore Business School and has trained for but to name a few, Kenya School of Monetary Studies, Kenya School of Law, Chartered Institute of Public Relations, AFROSAI-E in Pretoria.
He is a graduate of Moi University (Bachelor’s and PhD programmes) and Egerton University (Masters).
He also published a book in 2015 on Communication initiatives for the improvement of infrastructure: A case of water and sanitation programmes in informal settlements in Nairobi.
Before joining Brand.KE he was the Head of Public Relations and Communications at the OAG’s office and previously served in similar capacity at the Nairobi City County.
Virginia Messina joined WTTC in February 2013, responsible for driving the implementation of the three-year strategic plan. She served as Executive Director of the Global Travel Association Coalition to align the key Travel & Tourism organisations (ACI, IATA, ICAO, UNWTO and WEF) to ensure the sector speaks with ‘One Voice’.
Prior to joining WTTC, she spent 10 years working for the Mexican Government including the Presidential Office as well as three years as Chief of Cabinet and Head of International Affairs at the Ministry of Tourism. Virginia was instrumental in the creation of the National Agreement of Tourism which aligned the public and private sectors in Mexico around ten key strategic pillars and resulted in Mexico being one of the ten most visited countries globally. In 2012, under Mexico’s G20 Presidency, she led the process for the meeting of the Tourism Ministers of the G20 countries in which tourism was recognised for the first time ever by the G20 Leaders as a key pillar for economic growth.
Virginia was appointed WTTC Vice President of Government Affairs in January 2018 and promoted to Managing Director in 2019.
Stéphane Paquet is the President and CEO of Montréal International. Since January 2020, he has been overseeing the agency tasked with attracting foreign direct investment, international organizations as well as international talent and students to Greater Montréal.
When he joined Montréal International in 2016, Mr. Paquet took on the role of Vice President of Investment Greater Montréal and was supervising the team of professionals who support foreign companies’ projects in the region. In September 2017, his duties expanded with the additional mandate to attract and retain international organizations, leading to the creation of a new position –Vice President, Foreign Investments & International Organizations. Under his leadership, the value of foreign investment has more than doubled, from $1 billion to $2.47 billion.
Before joining Montréal International, Stéphane Paquet was appointed Québec Delegate General in London for two years.
From 1991 to 2001, he worked as a reporter, copy editor and assignment editor for broadcasting company Radio-Canada. He then switched to print, working at first for the daily Le Soleil in Québec City and then La Presse in Montréal. While at La Presse, he was in charge of the newspaper’s Business section for two years and also coordinated the internship program for young journalists.
He was appointed Deputy Editor and Editor in Chief of Les Affaires Group in September 2010. As such, he was in charge of Les Affaires newspaper, A+ personal finance magazine and LesAffaires.comwebsite in addition to actively participating in strategic discussions concerning the entire Group.
A recipient of a fellowship in the Young Leaders Program of the U.S. State Department, Stéphane Paquet has a Graduate Diploma in World Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Master’s degree in Communications from Université du Québec à Montréal. Mr. Paquet was also a lecturer at Université de Montréal and the University of Regina.
Mr. Paquet and his husband are fathers of two children.
Kim has seven successful years of project management experience at Scottish Enterprise (SE), Scotland's national economic development agency delivering a significant, lasting effect on the Scottish economy.
Her work at SE includes delivering practical solutions as part of the small (but perfectly formed) project management team behind Edinburgh Tourism Action Group. ETAG is the umbrella organisation for tourism businesses in Edinburgh, and supports over 1500 tourism professionals, businesses and organisations in the city to deliver both a great experience for the visitor and economic benefits for the city and Scotland as a whole.
Kim’s work over the last two years has particularly focused on the opportunities around developing digital capabilities within the destination.
Kim studied for her undergraduate MSc at the University of Edinburgh and has an MA from Edinburgh Napier University.
Sarah Russis is Director at fDi Intelligence, the largest Foreign Direct Investment centre of excellence worldwide [a specialist service from the Financial Times]. She has worked with Government agencies, Universities, Research institutions, Multinationals, SMEs and Consulting firms from over 50 countries. Sarah and her team help countries, regions and cities around the world to promote their location as an investment destination, identify new investors as well as build strong business cases through the use of fDi Intelligence’s state-of-the-art business intelligence and marketing tools. She also assists corporates and academic institutions in their market and industry research.
For the last 8 years Sarah has been helping to develop the fDi Intelligence tools and is an expert in using data to create analysis regarding a location’s competitiveness, marketing messages and brand awareness. Sarah is regularly invited to participate at international FDI events. Recently she presented at the MIPIM Real Estate event in Cannes, France, Annual Investment Meeting AIM Dubai and the United Nations World Tourism Organization Annual General Assembly in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Sarah has a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Foreign Languages from Anglia Polytechnic University in Cambridge, UK and a Master’s degree in International Business from the University of Cergy-Pontoise, France.
Jeremy Sampson is theCEO of the Travel Foundation,a leading tourism NGO. Based in Bristol, UK, Jeremy heads the organisation’sglobal work to improve the impacts of tourism on people and the environment.Under Jeremy’s leadership, the Travel Foundation is working with travelcompanies and destinations to better understand the impacts of tourism andmaximise its benefits for local people and the environment. He has also beeninstrumental in spearheading the launch of the Future of Tourism Coalition earlierthis year.
With experience in the tourism,conservation, and sustainability arenas, Jeremy has worked extensively with thepublic sector, SMEs, multinationals, and civil society. He spent five years asVP of Communications and Partnerships at Sustainable Travel International andanother two years as President of international tour operator, GreenSpotTravel. He served as an Adjunct Professor at the George Washington UniversityInternational Institute of Tourism Studies, was elected to serve on theExecutive Committee of the WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group(TAPAS), and currently serves on the Destination Stewardship Working Group ofthe Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
Immediately prior to joining the TravelFoundation, Jeremy worked at the IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation,where he helped to design and manage large-scale transnational EU-fundedinitiatives, such as DestiMED, and was instrumental in launching the MEETNetwork, a regional-scale ecotourism network and destination managementorganization for protected areas across the Med.
Keith Tan assumed the appointment of Chief Executive of the Singapore Tourism Board on 29 October 2018.
From 2014 to 2018, he served as the Deputy Secretary (Policy) in the Ministry of Defence, where he strengthened Singapore’s international defence partnerships, led MINDEF’s longer-term strategic planning and guided MINDEF’s strategic communications and public engagement efforts.
From 2013 to 2014, Keith was Senior Director of the Public Service Division’s PS21 Office, and concurrently held the appointment of Institute Director in the Institute of Governance and Policy at Singapore’s Civil Service College. Keith also served in the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) as Director of the Economics and Strategy Division (2008 - 2010) and the Foreign Economic Policy Division (2010 - 2013). From 2010 to 2013, he led Singapore’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with the European Union, and also served in the negotiating team for the TransPacific Partnership.
Khaledis a Saudi marketing and communications professional, with 20 years of experience in leading brand development, management and organizational transformations across different sectors, primarily in real-estate, consumer goods and the public sector.
He currently leads marketing and communications for the national investment promotion brand “INVEST SAUDI”- which aims to contribute to the Kingdom’s economic diversification by attracting local and foreign investments across allsectors.
Bloom Consulting CEO
Since 2003 Mr. Torres has been advising Countries in the field of Nation Branding and City Branding, working directly with heads of state, directors of National Tourism Organizations and Investment Promotion Agencies.
His clients include Countries, Regions and Cities such as Australia, Costa Rica, Israel, Jamaica, Poland, Sweden, Stockholm and many others spread across all five continents.
Mr. Torres collaborates directly with the World Economic Forum in the matters of Nation Branding and is a guest speaker in some of the most prestigious universities in USA and Europe, such as HARVARD, the London Business School, Stockholm School of Economics and many others, being interviewed by The Economist, BBC, Guardian and CNN.
Since 2011 his company performs a global research project called the Bloom Consulting Country Brand Ranking and most recently the Digital Country Index and the Digital City Index
Daniel Valverde Bagnarello has built a career in marketing for over 20 years. He holds both a Master in Digital Marketing and a Master in Management from IE Business School, a seat in the British School of Costa Rica's Advisor Committee, former Secretary of the Latin American Country Brands Counsel and most recently, pursuing a Ph.D in Communication degree at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona.
Although he started in advertising, Daniel's career path has led him over the years from a copywriter’s desk at a BBDO network agency, to the commercial director's seat in one of the most successful company holdings in the Central American region devoted to global trade. Along the way he has skilled in the management of multinational marketing teams praising that success in his field lays on two major pillars: The first, embracing data as the main source to spark creative initiatives. And the second, committing to talent development as a KPI.
Currently, Daniel is the Country Brand Director behind "essential COSTA RICA", the country brand that showed the greatest annual growth in America according to the Bloom Consulting Country Brand Ranking 2017/2018, won Place Brand of the Year at the City Nation Place Awards 2019 and received the Branding Award at the Place Marketing Forum 2020 in Marseille. He also leads the country brand's Technical Unit that comprises representatives from Procomer (Costa Rica's TPA), CINDE (IPA), ICT (Tourism Bureau), COMEX (International Trade Bureau), Culture & Youth Bureau and Costa Rica's Chancellery (Foreign Affairs Bureau).
Patrick Hamilton Walsh is an award-winning author and keynote speaker. Working to ensure everyone receives an equal chance in life, he has worked extensively in educating corporations and individuals in the benefits of synergies that derive from a diversified team working toward a collective goal.
Patrick is currently based in Stockholm, Sweden, serving as Head of Talent for the City of Stockholm, advising on European pandemic response leadership, global talent mobility and working to provide solutions to global mega trends.
Patrick spends his spare time backpacking, having travelled to 140 countries across the seven continents building relationships with people of all backgrounds, faith and outlook.
Employed by GainingEdge, Lesley took up the post of Managing Director for the BestCities Global Alliance account in January 2020, having worked as Director, Market Development since July 2017. Before joining GainingEdge and BestCities Lesley was Head of Business Tourism for Marketing Edinburgh where her key focus has been sourcing and bidding for international and national conferences and events for the city. She led the development of the Convention Bureau - the result of which saw Edinburgh record its highest economic impact of £94.3M in 2015-16 attracting 206 future conferences to the city.
Lesley participates fully in the wider tourism arena, is a past Chair of ICCA UK and Ireland Chapter and a huge advocate for legacy and the beyond tourism benefits generated by business events.
Previous experience includes business development for international hotel chains and prestigious caterers and 8 years as Director of Sales at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) playing a key role in taking EICC into operational profit in 2003 through the development of key international and national association and corporate business.
Jonathan Woetzel, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company and Director, McKinsey Global Institute, leads McKinsey Global Institute research on China, Asia, and global economic and business trends. Helps cities and regions create sustainable growth and supports the transformation of Chinese companies into global leaders.
As VISIT FLORIDA’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Dana Young leads Florida’s official destination marketing organization in partnership with its Board of Directors and the statewide tourism industry.
Throughout her career, Dana has served in leadership positions working to cultivate and protect Florida’s exceptional business climate and a world-class quality of life. Dana served in the Florida House from 2010 through 2016, rising to Majority Leader for the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions. In 2016, she was elected to the Florida Senate, where she represented parts of western Hillsborough County for two years. Dana was appointed to the VISIT FLORIDA position by Governor Ron DeSantis in January of 2019. In addition to her duties as President and CEO, she is a member of the U.S. Travel Association’s Chairman’s Circle.
Dana is a sixth-generation Floridian and was born and raised in Tallahassee. She received her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Florida State University and, in pursuit of her interest in law and public policy, graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1993, and maintained a robust environmental law practice for many years. In her free time, Dana enjoys spending time in natural Florida and tarpon fishing with her husband, Matt, and two daughters, Alexandra and Carson.